REVIEW album Old Subbacultcha Old Subbacultcha

Debut album from Teleman builds rather than rests on former glories

Old Subbacultcha

Old Subbacultcha

There's little looking back as ex-Pete and the Pirates stalwarts are reborn as Teleman

Teleman-BreakfastTeleman - Breakfast (OUT 2ND JUNE)

Laudably, albeit somewhat bizarrely, Teleman make no mention whatsoever of their origins in any of their press to date, instead making vague mention of finding themselves "adrift in London when the two guitarists left their former band". Said band was the thoroughly splendid Pete and the Pirates whose two albums of spirited Syd Barrett fronted indie-isms presumably never got the success they so richly deserved, and since moreover frontman of both bands Thomas Sanders has also released two excellent lo-fi solo endeavours as Tap Tap, you'd hope that riches and plaudits were forthcoming this time round.

So with no embarrassing backstory coupled with the aiding and abetting of a certain
Bernard Butler on production duties, everything bodes well for
Breakfast and indeed, it's testament to the new incarnation that these expectations are well met on their own merits. It all opens with
'Christina' the single that heralded the reinvention (effectively a drummer replaced with drum machine and discovery of synths but still the canny way with an earworm), a subtle creep that languidly ensnares the senses with a gentle layering of delicate instrumentation (including some sterling vox choir) building around its glorious refrain; a hypnotic call to arms for all to follow:
"lie down and let the music play, nothing in the way now..." Elsewhere,
'In Your Fur' has a gleefully scrappy chug that's not a million miles away from their former incarnation (that'll be the handclaps...) although again, there's a sense of measure and restraint as the song slowly unfolds and expands propelled by arpegiatting synth refrain. Similarly
'Skeleton Dance' hints at the urgency and pace of
Pete and the Pirates but holds things back with the gentle bontempi of the drums, the song never quite erupting  into or moving up into the gear it threatens. The departure or evolution is perhaps more pronounced on the likes of
'Steam Train Girl' whose insistent synth bass and burbling keys underpin distorted glam guitar and some heavily treated vocodered vocals, or the polite reserve of
'Monday Morning' which is borne along on steady synth bass and electric drum clash and gentle despair and venom;
"if you are so smart, surely you can see whoever you're waking up with now, it's still not me".
'Mainline'  starts with a heavy doff of the cap to
'On Your Own' with the aggressive wonky distortion of the main guitar riff, but otherwise the song's a clarion call of glorious Barrett falsetto and carnival ride synths, and likewise there's joyful affirmation asunder in the caustic waltz of
'Redhead Saturday' (
"she can fuck herself for all i can care"). Best of all is
'23 Floors Up', relatively familiar territory for this lot but no less wonderful for it. The song is pure glorious ballad swoon much like
One Thousand Pictures'
'Half Moon Street' and
'Bright Lights' from
Little Death although in an effort perhaps to avoid a rehash of former glories, the song is lodged neatly near the middle rather than the suspected album-close its swooping sing-along might suggest. Which is as good a summation of
Teleman's approach as any. Much as they might like to bury the past, the ghost of
Pete and Pirates in all its glory creeps in often on
Breakfast, but there's no doubt that in tinkering with the formula, the reinvention has been successful and no doubt time will soon bury said ghosts for good.